When faced with uncertainty, especially in the constantly changing business world, rely on your internal compass instead of a roadmap to guide you.
Crisis and uncertainty should not be seen solely as problems, but as obstacles to greater opportunities. The goal is to tap into a higher sense of direction and push through with conviction.
According to Kat Cole – former COO and Group President of Focus Brands – a compass is a set of guiding principles, values that influence your sense of purpose and commitment.
A former Hooters waitress turned Vice President at age 26, Cole oversaw the business growth of Hooters into a $1 billion revenue company. She’s faced her fair share of business quandaries along the way and safe to say, understands the importance of direction and leadership.
Cole expanded more upon the compass Vs. roadmap analogy on Quite Franklin.
Since the future is mostly uncertain, a roadmap can only take you so far, Cole says. Think of the roadmap as a day-to-day framework or a map. For a known destination, it can provide you with directions to get there.
But what if the off-ramp that you are supposed to exit is closed for road works? The roadmap becomes quickly obsolete because it can’t adjust to unexpected real-time changes.
A compass, on the other hand, allows you to maintain your sense of direction and figure out the proper path to your destination. It is easy to lose your bearings under pressure and once you are thrown off course, it becomes difficult and frustrating to deal with the next set of challenges.
Navigating constant uncertainty is one of the major themes I have discussed on my blog. Even though I’m a firm believer in routine, sometimes even the best guides and flowcharts can’t capture every contingency.
Cole describes a compass as a set of personal values, beliefs and systems that internally guides how we act. A compass defines your purpose and during times of uncertainty, it serves as a powerful North Star.
For most of us, we typically have one of three choices when facing a problem. A good decision, a bad decision and indecision.
It goes without saying that I like making good decisions but it’s rare to know beforehand or otherwise hit that mark consistently.
The next best alternative is making a bad decision, which unfortunately happens from time to time.
However, the worst you can do is to make no decision at all. Indecision is not only bad and uninformed, it is often incongruent with your compass or set of values.
I’d rather make a bad decision that is congruent with my compass and values than one that is not.
In summary, a roadmap may provide actionable steps to reach a particular destination but it falls short if you encounter unexpected obstacles and conflicts. When that happens, using a compass will allow you to work out the best path that aligns with your destination and purpose.
So, when you face an uncertain situation, do not opt to use one tool over the other. Instead, by utilizing a combination of the two, you gain the best chance at getting closer to your goals and destination.
For more of Cole’s entrepreneurship, leadership and business lessons, check out her podcast episode on Quite Franklin.